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MotoGP analysis: How Marquez hit 'Level 7'

Marc Marquez

Bengaluru, October 22: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is now a seven-time world champion, with the number 93 wrapping up his fifth premier class crown in six years in Japan.

The Repsol Honda Team rider wrapped up a sensational seventh FIM World Championship title at the home of Honda, Motegi, claiming a stunning victory at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan after a race-long battle with Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati Team.

It did not end the way of Buriram, however, with the Italian crashing out of contention at Turn 10 with two laps to go and Marquez left with one lap alone in the lead to take the win and the crown. 'DesmoDovi' had to push to the limit, and that he did.

Perfect launch

Perfect launch

Dovizioso got the perfect launch from P1 as Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) just came into contact off the front row.

Marquez, meanwhile, kept the inside line from P6 to get himself into P3 before dispatching Miller at Turn 9 for P2 - and Dovi's qualifying advantage had disappeared after just half a lap.

Great start

Great start

Crutchlow then got past Miller to latch onto Marquez and Dovi, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) making a great start from P9 to get himself up to fourth as he passed Miller into Turn 11.

The three at the front then put the hammer down as Dovizioso slammed in a 1:45.7 on Lap 6 though, and Crutchlow and Marquez kept tabs on the Italian but fourth place Rossi suddenly found himself over eight tenths back.

Fluctuating pace

Fluctuating pace

The pace was fluctuating but the leading trio started to edge away from the nine-time world champion bit by bit, who in turn had two Team Suzuki Ecstar riders homing in on him.

With eight laps to go, Dovizioso and Marquez exchanged 1:45s with Crutchlow a whisper behind but a lap later the number 35 was two tenths slower as the front two started to make the decisive break. Dovi's intent was clear: a fastest lap of the race, hammer firmly down and the pin pulled.

Healthy margin

Healthy margin

It was, Dovizioso vs Marquez on the final five laps. Marquez sat behind the Desmosedici before making a move into P1 at Turn 9 - no immediate reply for Dovi. With three to go the Ducati was swarming, but there was no way past with two to go.

Then, a huge moment and one that decided the 2018 title. Pushing hard to keep with Marquez, Dovi tucked the front of his GP18 at Turn 10 with just over two laps to go, crashing out of the race to leave Marquez with a healthy margin to Crutchlow and Rins.

Home podium

Home podium

Pushing to the limit to deny the Spaniard the Italian found that limit and just stepped over it, and Marquez was left chasing the crown in clear air.

Crutchlow held off Rins for P2 at the line, with Rins less than two tenths behind the British rider to secure a phenomenal home podium for Suzuki.

The FIM MotoGP Championship is over but the on-track battles will remain as breathtaking as ever the caravan heads to Phillip Island in a week when the pressure, and the gloves, will be off.

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    Story first published: Monday, October 22, 2018, 10:56 [IST]
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